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Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura – Outing Violence

Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura – Outing Violence

After 20 workshops all over Aotearoa New Zealand, it seems like rainbow communities know what they need to have healthy relationships. Have your say in the relationships survey at www.kahukura.co.nz

Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura – Outing Violence just finished a national road trip with stops from Whangarei to Dunedin, including several workshops in both Auckland and Wellington. The project targets partner and sexual violence in rainbow communities and the workshopsaimed to get everyone on the same page about violence before finding out what people wanted to out “We talked about the ways abuse and violence get used in relationships to control another person, and the impact of that over time,” says project manager Sandra Dickson.

“Our communities already knew quite a lot about how that can happen – people understood how verbal abuse, psychological abuse, isolation tactics and minimizing the violence are used to make someone feel small.”

People also knew that partner violence wasn’t just about “the bash”. “In fact, people talked more about how a partner threatening to “out” you to anyone who doesn’t know can be a great way to keep control. The idea that in a partner violence situation, one person will be gaining more and more control – over where you go, what you do, who you see, how you spend money – that was the stuff we talked People also recognized that what makes partner violence different in rainbow relationships is the homophobia, biphobia and transphobia we experience in the world.

“One trans woman told us a story about reporting her husband to the police for violence. Her husband told them he had just found out she was trans, and they didn’t take any further action.”

But it wasn’t just in asking for help that the phobias come into play – sometimes they get used in relationships to hurt. “We heard lots of stuff about people’s identities being ridiculed in abusive relationships, maybe especially for bisexual people, and pressures to do sexual things based on what’s supposed to be ‘normal’”, says Ms Dickson. “Racism and lack of respect for cultural belongings was also something many people talked about. Our mainstream spaces are not always welcoming for our rainbow people of colour.”

The session on sexual violence and consent was often the liveliest. “Most people didn’t know the law, so people had lots to say and ask. The most important point here was if you were getting any message at all that someone wasn’t fully into what was happening, you should stop and ask,” says Ms Dickson.

“Learning how to give and seek consent is really about making sure everyone involved wants to be doing what you’re doing – no one feels pressured or manipulated or forced.”

In terms of what communities wanted, there was lots of common ground around the country.

“People want role models for healthy rainbow relationships. They want to be able to see themselves – in terms of ethnicity and rainbow identity – and they want to have mentors and much wider access to rainbow support groups. There was lots of commentary about existing family and sexual violence services not really working for lots of the rainbow community, and we heard a few very disappointing stories. So people want to see that improve. And people want those who have been using abuse or violence to stop, and take responsibility for learning how to do things better.”

“There was also lots of interest in making sure sexuality education in schools is relevant for queer and trans young people, and that family and whānau know how to support their rainbow family members.”

“I’m still looking at all the notes,” says Ms Dickson. “We have more than twenty-five pages of bullet More than 230 people came to the workshops around the country. Hosts included Tiwhanawhana Trust, Box Events, Agender, Love Life Fono, Equasian and Shakti as well as many queer and trans youth focused groups around the country. “One of our largest hui was in Palmerston North – I promised I’d give them a shout out. That was also one of our four hour ones, because no one wanted to leave.”

“We will be reporting back to the community next year, and we’d encourage anyone interested to join our mailing list. And please, if you haven’t already done so, do our survey. It takes 10-20 minutes and is open to everyone over 16 in the rainbow community in New Zealand. You do not need to have experienced violence.”

The project website includes factsheets for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans and intersex survivors.

There’s also information about how to step in if you’re worried about a friend using or experiencing violence; how to stay safe leaving an abusive relationship, and definitions of sexual and partner violence.

Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura – Outing Violence is supported by an Advisory Group and is funded by It’s Not OK. The fundholder for this work is Ara Taiohi, a peak body for the youth sector and administrator of the Queer/Trans* Grants.


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